Sunday, November 22, 2015

Americans Fear Threats on Thanksgiving Weekend in America and Abroad

As the 25.3 million Americans boarded planes to fly the friendly skies around the Thanksgiving holidays, many were traveling with a solid case of “the jitters,” courtesy of international radical Islamic terror attacks, some with good reason.

A bomb threat nearly grounded a Singapore Airlines flight from San Francisco on Sunday, according to Channel NewsAsia.

The flight instead landed safely at noon in Singapore’s Changi Airport a few hours later. Passengers were unable to leave the aircraft, however, for about 90 minutes, according to the state-owned news agency. Baggage pickup took another two hours.

It was not made clear how the threat was discovered, nor what measures were taken to ensure the safety of the aircraft. “We regret we are unable to provide details as it concerns security,” Singapore Airlines said in a statement to media.

At around the same time on the eastern coast, a bomb threat caused a Turkish Airlines Airbus A330 jet en route to Istanbul to be diverted shortly after departure from JFK Airport in New York City.

Turkish Airlines flight TYH2 / TK2 landed instead in Halifax, Canada, where firefighter crews and police evacuated the 256 passengers and crew from the aircraft to the terminal building.

The plane landed in “a remote area” of Halifax Stanfield airport at “runway 23, taxiway alpha,” according to authorities who tweeted the information. Canadian emergency services and Royal Canadian Mounted Police both responded to the bomb threat as well.

After a thorough search, no explosives were found, according to Canadian police in Nova Scotia. The plane resumed its flight to Istanbul, with all but five of its passengers on board.

A second plane also subsequently diverted to the same airport, according to East Hants Fire Service Dispatches. “HRM fire, Airport Fire, EHS and RCMP all responded” to the threat.

On Saturday night, a Spirit Airlines flight out of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, was turned around and sent back to the tarmac after a reported bomb threat on board turned out to be a complete mistake. It was all due to an overheard conversation that was misunderstood, resulting in a U.S. citizen of Middle Eastern appearance being taken off the flight.

“They treated me like a terrorist guy,” he later told a news conference. “I have to pay a price for my appearance.”

A bomb threat received by the FBI on Sunday also managed to temporarily close down banks in the Washington DC area as well. 

The American domestic national security agency’s Washington field office said in a statement that it received the call from the Netherlands, via a Canadian telephone operator. 

The caller warned that a bomb would explode at 12 noon Monday at a national bank in the center of Washington.

"The Washington Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation does not have reason to assign a high degree of credibility to this call," the statement said. "However, due to the specificity of the information provided concerning the type of target facility...this information is being disseminated to members of the banking industry in the Washington DC area." Bank staff were reminded to remain mindful of their surroundings, the FBI added.

It's not as if the police in Washington DC don't have enough to do as it is: The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are both set to hold their annual meetings in the city this week. In addition, the American capital will host a meeting of the Group of Seven finance ministers, a conference of federal judges and a number of protest marches. 

Earlier this month, the New York Police Department put the finishing touches on its brand new counter terrorism unit, headquartered on Randall's Island. At full strength the new unit is to be comprised of several hundred specially trained elite counter terrorism officers. Is it likely they'll be needed? Hm ... probably. 

Last Thursday -- on Thanksgiving Day -- JFK International Airport allegedly went on a silent, but high alert for several hours with some incoming flights diverted, for reasons unspecified, a local source said. "I was told by a friend there was a concrete threat," said a Brooklyn native who asked that her name not be used, due to fears of ... you guessed it -- revenge from unnamed radical Islamists.  

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